Theso abruptly last week due to the coronavirus outbreak that a long-term plan was not yet in place for potentially resuming play when it was safe. Now, the details of the plan being formed are beginning to trickle out. NBA commissioner Adam Silver appeared on "Inside the NBA" on Thursday and revealed that the league's current suspension would last at least 30 days.
That, however, seems increasingly optimistic. Early on Sunday evening, the CDC released a new recommendation that events and large gatherings with 50 or more people be postponed for at least eight weeks. On Tuesday, NBA owners had a call with former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy, and are hopeful they can begin playing again before July, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
"Even if we're out for a month, if we're out for six weeks, we can still restart the season," Silver said. "It might mean the Finals take place in July or late July. Just my feeling was it was way premature to suggest we had lost the season."
In addition to his statements on TNT, Silver posted an open letter to fans. Within it, he described the situation in a bit more detail, explaining again that the league hopes to resume the season if it is possible. Additionally, he explained if games are indeed canceled, or played without fans present, teams will work with fans on either refunds or credits for future games.
When asked if the season could possibly be canceled altogether, Silver replied, "Of course it's possible. I just don't know more at this point."
There is no telling what a resumed season might look like if the NBA does eventually pick things back up. The simplest possibility would be to just pick up the regular season where it left off, but that seems unrealistic now with how far things are likely to be pushed back. The other possibilities would include a truncated and reorganized regular season or simply ending the regular season entirely and immediately jumping to the playoffs.
The issue with doing that, though, is that asking players to immediately jump from months with no basketball right into playoff-intensity games would likely lead to injuries and poor play. The league would at least need to build time into the schedule for a second training camp or some exhibition games. In that sense, having some form of regular-season basketball ahead of the playoffs would be essential.
There is, of course, the chance that the season doesn't resume at all. If the spread of the virus gets bad enough, the league could simply declare the season over. The NBA has named a champion every year since 1947, the second-longest streak among professional sports behind the NFL, which has done so every year since 1933 (though in fairness, the Super Bowl in its current form was not created until 1967.)
At this point, there is no way of knowing which option will ultimately be chosen. All that can be done now is prepare for the worst and hope that the disease can be managed well enough not only for basketball to resume, but for the American public to remain safe.